It’s Here, the All New SKODA Fabia Review

In Car Reviews, Featured Articles, Skoda by Tom Scanlan

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Skodas are selling better than they ever have done previously and the company now seems confident to price its cars a little nearer VW prices than before.

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However, they say they offer more equipment than before in a relatively lower-priced package compare with the outgoing models. Also, as a general rule across the range, the new Fabias are in cheaper insurance groups.


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You can buy an all-new Skoda Fabia from as little as £10,600. What you get, compared with the outgoing model is a car that’s a bit bigger, sharper-looking and that Skoda says is both lighter and stronger. Lighter helps towards more efficiency in fuel consumption terms and exhaust emissions; stronger means more safety.

 

Skoda also says that equipment levels across the range have been boosted. For example, six airbags are fitted as standard along with Bluetooth, DAB radio and USB and 3.5mm auxiliary sockets. The luggage capacity is claimed to the best in this segment.

All the engines are new, ranging from the 1.0-litre 3-cylinder MPI to the 1.2-litre 4-cylinder FSI to the 1.4-litre 4-cylinder TDI. Skoda says that they expect the 75PS version of the 1.1 car, with SE trim specification, to be the leading seller. Depending on the model, a fuel saving of up to 16% is claimed measured against the outgoing Fabias.

Emissions are improved from 14 to 22 grams per kilometre (g/km), meaning cheaper road tax and, in the case of the diesels, no tax at all.

The Volkswagen Audi Group’s nice 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox is an optional extra in the more powerful (102PS) version of the two 1.2 petrol cars and the less powerful (90PS) of the two 1.4 diesels — the DSG not being designed to cope with the greater torque of the 110PS engine. You pay £1000 for the car to do its own gear changing, although there are the usual paddle shifts and manual selection.

This third generation of Fabias has been designed to allow more personalisation of the available features. On the outside, this includes a choice of fifteen body colours, and three roof and wheel colour combinations. Also new to the Fabia is a panoramic sun roof available as a £600 optional extra.

Safety technology now includes Front Assistant — a feature on many more expensive cars that can detect an imminent collision and warn the driver or, in extremis, actually stop the car; there’s also a Driver Fatigue Sensor.

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The two versions that I tried, both in SE trim, over130 miles of busy cross-country routes and dual carriageways and motorways in Sussex plus heavy town traffic in Brighton, were equally enjoyable and impressive. The days when Skoda was a budget vehicle and the butt of a bookful of jokes are ancient history. The Fabia won its first European Car Of The Year in the year 2000 and has repeated the feat as What Car magazine’s best small car of the year and overall Car Of The Year for 2015 (cars launched from now onwards will be judged for 2016).

Settling into the new Fabia gave an immediate sense of comfort and class. It was easy to find the perfect driving position via the various wheel and seat adjustments, the build quality seemed excellent and the feel of all the controls, from the leather-covered steering wheel to the stalks and other minor functions was very satisfactory.

The instrumentation was simple and clear and the central dashboard area houses the touchscreen. Interestingly, Skoda does not provide satellite navigation on the Fabias, preferring to recognise the advent of the smart phone into many lives, so they have their Mirror Link feature that would allow, for example, the uploading of the satnav app into the car, or, similarly, voice commands and any other app you may have. For safety, certain of these would not be viewable once the car is in motion. Conversely, an optional extra for £100 is Smartgate; this works the other way round from Mirror Link, allowing the transfer of data from the car’s own computer onto your phone. At present, it has to be said, the infrastructure for all this to work fully is not yet available on all phone types.

On the road, the 1.4-litre 90PS (£15,390) diesel was quiet and smooth and very easy to drive. It had a reasonably lively performance (0-62mph in 11.1 seconds) that is probably enough for typical Fabia use, and a nice five-speed gearbox. A discreet display in the speedometer prompts you to change up or down for optimum performance and, observing this quite closely, I got an indicated fuel consumption return of 66.8 mpg which I was pretty happy with, even if the official combined figure is 83.1 mpg. However, I did sometimes get a feeling that, when I changed gear when suggested up to fifth from fourth that the engine was just slightly lumpy.

The car’s handling was excellent with good feel through the steering wheel and a very nice ride, too. The brakes were well up to scratch. The Front Assistant feature that came into operation when I was too close (I admit) to a truck that suddenly braked for no obvious reason saved me and the car from a possible embarrassment by beeping at me to warn me. Many more expensive cars now have this, but it was the first time that I had actually experienced it for real as opposed to a demonstration.

I then drove a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder petrol-engined car (and pretty well all the comments relating to the feel and performance of the diesel can be reiterated. The fuel consumption showed up at 52.3 mpg, compared to the official 58.9 mpg. This engine is at least as good as similar types from other manufacturers.

The liveliest performers are the 1.2-litre cars; they can sprint to 62 mph in 9.4 seconds.

Estate versions of the new Fabia will appear in March and will carry a £1000 premium over the price of the hatchbacks.

The days when Skoda was a budget vehicle and the butt of many jokes are ancient history. The Fabia won its first European Car Of The Year in the year 2000 and has repeated the feat as What Car magazine’s best small car of the year and overall Car Of The Year for 2015.

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About the Author
Tom Scanlan

Tom Scanlan

'Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars. He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0. In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.'

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ŠKODA Fabia SE L 1.4 TDI 90PS

Price: £15,390 – Car tested was £15,915 options included Special Paint, Simply Clever Storage package, floor mats, space saver spare wheel, Smart Gate and decorative insert.

Engine: 1.4 TDI 4 cylinder diesel
Transmission: 5 -spd manual
0-62mph: 11.1 seconds
Top speed: 113mph
Fuel economy: combined 83.1 mpg
CO2 emissions: 88 g/km

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ŠKODA Fabia SE 1.0 MPI 75PS

Price: £12,760 – Car tested was £13,595 options included Metallic Paint, Simply Clever Storage package, floor mats, space saver spare wheel, Smart Gate.

Engine: 1.0 MPI 3 cylinder petrol
Transmission: 5 -spd manual
0-62mph: 14.7 seconds
Top speed: 107mph
Fuel economy: combined 58.9 mpg
CO2 emissions: 108 g/km

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